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Joel Payamps career is a case study in patience and perseverance. Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 17 year old Amateur free agent by the Rockies back in 2011, he toiled 4 years in the low minors for that organization, the last two of which did not go well. Consecutive seasons of 6+ ERA in 2013-14 resulted in the Rockies releasing him. After not pitching at all in 2015, he was signed by the Diamondbacks as a Minor League Free Agent at the end of 2015. Since joining the DBacks organization he has steadily progressed, appearing in both AA Jackson and AAA Reno each of the last three seasons before earning a brief callup to the majors in 2019.
Sometimes described as wiry and lanky, standing at 6’2” and 200 lbs, Payamps throws a Fastball, Sinker, Slider and Change. If used as a reliever, he’ll mostly use the 4 Seamer and slider. His 4 Seamer averages 93 MPH, maxing out at 96. He may be able to add a little to that velocity working strictly as a reliever. His command has been inconsistent, but when he has it, he strikes out a lot of batters and can dominate.
The year did not start off Well for Payamps. In his first start on April 6th he took a comebacker off his foot which caused him to miss two months with a fracture. But when he returned in early June he was lights out. In his 41 IP at Jackson he walked just 2 while striking out 39, and allowed just 2 HR, good for a 2.17 FIP and a promotion to Reno.
Upon arriving in Reno in mid July, his success continued. In his first 4 starts, 22.2 IP, he allowed just 6 earned runs, 2.38 ERA. However the K/BB ratio fell to just 12/10. He then got roughed up in his two subsequent starts allowing 9 runs in 9.2 IP on 11 hits and 2 homers. Ironically he struck out 10 and walked just 3 during those two starts. Overall it was enough to earn him a callup to the big club in August.
Making his major league debut on August 21, he came on in the 6th to relieve Mike Leake with the Dbacks down 5-0 to the Rockies. He pitched 3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, all singles, walking one batter and striking out three. In his second appearance he pitched a scoreless 8th inning in a 4-0 loss to the Brewers.
The two mop up appearances were all he would get in 2019. He was sent back to Reno and made one more appearance there on August 30th, his last of the season. He was not added to the MLB roster in September, which was somewhat of a surprise to me at the time as I had projected him to be among the September Callups . I’m not quite certain what happened there.
Whats Next in 2020 ?
As a member of the 40 man roster, he’ll likely start the year in Reno, and could be called up to either relieve or spot start as needed in 2020. He has an intriguing arm, and while I don’t think he will ever be more more than a very back end rotation option, he still has some upside as a reliever in my view. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a shot at the 2020 bullpen in spring training. He has the stuff, but will need more consistent command to be successful.